IN THE SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES

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No. 17-647

ROSE MARY KNICK, PETITIONER

v.

TOWNSHIP OF SCOTT, PENNSYLVANIA, ET AL.

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ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI
TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS
FOR THE THIRD CIRCUIT

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MOTION OF THE UNITED STATES FOR LEAVE TO
PARTICIPATE IN ORAL ARGUMENT AS AMICUS CURIAE
AND FOR DIVIDED ARGUMENT

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Pursuant to Rules 28.4 and 28.7 of the Rules of this Court,

the Solicitor General, on behalf of the United States,

respectfully moves that the United States be granted leave to

participate in the oral argument in this case as amicus curiae

supporting vacatur and remand and that the United States be

allowed ten minutes of argument time. Petitioner has agreed to

cede ten minutes of argument time to the United States and

therefore consents to this motion.
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1. This Court granted certiorari to decide whether to

reconsider a portion of its decision in Williamson County

Regional Planning Commission v. Hamilton Bank, 473 U.S. 172

(1985) (Williamson County). In that case, a landowner brought a

suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983 alleging that local zoning laws

amounted to a Fifth Amendment taking of its property. 473 U.S.

at 176-182. The Court concluded that the suit was “not yet

ripe” because the owner had not pursued available state-court

procedures for obtaining compensation. Id. at 194.

2. This case arises from an ordinance enacted by

respondent the Township of Scott, Pennsylvania. The ordinance

provides that any owner whose property contains a cemetery must

allow public access to the cemetery. Pet. App. A2. Petitioner

owns land containing a cemetery, and she filed a Section 1983

suit alleging that the ordinance effects a Fifth Amendment

taking. Id. at B4. The district court dismissed her Fifth

Amendment claim based on Williamson County. Id. at B1-B18.

The court of appeals affirmed. Pet. App. A1-A33. It held

that, under Williamson County, a property owner bringing a

federal suit to recover for a taking by a local government must

first “seek and be denied just compensation using the state’s

procedures, provided those procedures are adequate.” Id. at

A20-A21. The court explained that Pennsylvania law allows a

landowner to bring an inverse-condemnation action to obtain
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compensation for a taking, and it concluded that petitioner had

neither availed herself of that procedure nor shown that it is

inadequate. Id. at A21.

3. This Court granted certiorari to decide whether to

reconsider the Williamson County rule. The United States has

filed a brief as amicus curiae supporting vacatur and remand.

The brief argues that Williamson County correctly recognized

that the Fifth Amendment does not “require that just

compensation be paid in advance of, or contemporaneously with,

[a] taking.” 473 U.S. at 194. Instead, the Court has long held

that what is required for a lawful taking of property for public

use “is that a ‘reasonable, certain and adequate provision for

obtaining compensation’ exist at the time of the taking.” Ibid.

(citation omitted). But that well-settled constitutional rule

should not prevent owners whose property is taken by local

governments from enforcing their Fifth Amendment rights in a

federal forum. As the United States explains in its brief, the

Court should make clear -- either by clarifying the Williamson

County rule or by reconsidering and rejecting it -- that those

owners may seek just compensation in federal court.

4. Although the Williamson County rule does not apply to

suits seeking to recover for asserted takings by the federal

government, the United States has a substantial interest in the

sound development of the underlying constitutional principles.
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The United States has often participated in oral argument as

amicus curiae in cases involving the proper interpretation of

the Takings Clause. See, e.g., Murr v. Wisconsin, 137 S. Ct.

1933 (2017); Koontz v. St. Johns River Water Mgmt. Dist., 570

U.S. 595 (2013); Stop the Beach Renourishment, Inc. v. Florida

Dep’t of Envtl. Prot., 560 U.S. 702 (2010). We therefore

believe that oral presentation of the views of the United States

would be of material assistance to the Court.

Respectfully submitted.

NOEL J. FRANCISCO
Solicitor General
Counsel of Record

JULY 2018